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‘Irresponsible’ Klarna ads banned

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Written by: Emma Lunn
23/12/2020
The buy now pay later service’s Instagram influencer campaign was outlawed by the advertising watchdog for encouraging spending on non-essentials during the pandemic.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated four Instagram posts on ‘influencer’ accounts on behalf of Klarna.

Influencers Bradley Harper, Claire Menary, Aisha Master and Yasmin Fatollahy were all paid to create and post content on behalf of the controversial lender. The posts all included the hashtag #klarnait.

The Instagram stars were boasting of buying beauty and skincare products, supposedly bought using the buy now pay later service, to cheer them up during lockdown.

Stella Creasy MP challenged whether the ads were irresponsible for encouraging the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service to help people lift their low mood during the pandemic.

When challenged by the ASA, Klarna said it believed the four ads complied with advertising rules and were not irresponsible. It claimed the key theme was ‘to take care of one’s self during the Covid-19 lockdown period’.

The ASA acknowledged that purchasing non-essential items was likely to be a source of comfort for some people during the national lockdown.

But it noted that each ad promoted the use of Klarna’s deferred payment services, with influencers linking buying beauty or clothing products using Klarna with enhancing their mood during an uncertain and challenging period. It said the ads were posted when many people were experiencing difficult circumstances and isolation during the lockdown, including financial concerns and mental health problems.

One post by Aisha Master (@masteramas) promoted a £139 facemask from Space NK which was referred to as a ‘great investment mask, made easier with @klarna.uk’.

The ASA said that this ad encouraged consumers to purchase a relatively expensive beauty item which was likely to go beyond the usual spending habits of many. It also pointed to use of the word ‘splurge’ in the same post.

The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form. It told Klarna, and influencers Bradley Harper, Claire Menary, Aisha Master and Yasmin Fatollahy, that their future advertising must not irresponsibly encourage the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service, particularly by linking it with lifting or boosting mood.

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